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Jesuits and the Homeless 

Companions on Life's Journey 



WILLIAM E. CREED, S.J. 






BX3701 .S88 
v.39:no.4(2007:winter) 
01/29/2008 
Current Periodicals 



• WINTER 200 



THE SEMINAR ON JESUIT SPIRITUALITY 

The Seminar is composed of a number of Jesuits appointed from their provinces in the United 
States. 

It concerns itself with topics pertaining to the spiritual doctrine and practice of Jesuits, 
especially United States Jesuits, and communicates the results to the members of the provinces 
through its publication, Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits. This is done in the spirit of 
Vatican II's recommendation that religious institutes recapture the original inspiration of their 
founders and adapt it to the circumstances of modern times. The Seminar welcomes reactions or 
comments in regard to the material that it publishes. 

The Seminar focuses its direct attention on the life and work of the Jesuits of the Unit- 
ed States. The issues treated may be common also to Jesuits of other regions, to other priests, re- 
ligious, and laity, to both men and women. Hence, the journal, while meant especially for Ameri- 
can Jesuits, is not exclusively for them. Others who may find it helpful are cordially welcome to 
make use of it. 

CURRENT MEMBERS OF THE SEMINAR 

Richard A. Blake, S. J., is chairman of the Seminar and editor of Studies; he teaches film studies 

at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass. (2002) 
James T. Bretzke, S.J., teaches theology at the University of San Francisco, San Francisco, Cal. 

(2006) 
Gerald T. Cobb, S.J., teaches English at Seattle University, Seattle, Wash. (2007) 
Patrick J. Howell, S.J., is vice-president for Mission and Ministry at Seattle University, Seattle, 

Wash. (2006) 
Mark S. Massa, S.J., teaches theology and is director of the American Catholic Studies Program 

at Fordham University, Bronx, N. Y. (2006) 
Thomas Massaro, S.J., teaches moral theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, Cambridge, 

Mass. (2006) 
Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J., teaches history at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, Cal. (2005) 
Philip J. Rosato, S.J., is senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, Washington, D.C. 

(2005) 
Thomas J. Scirghi, S.J., teaches liturgy at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, Berkeley, 

Cal. (2007) 
Thomas Worcester, S.J., teaches history at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Mass. 

(2007) 
Michael A. Zampelli, S.J., teaches theater and dance at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, Cal. 

(2007) 

The opinions expressed in Studies are those of the individual authors thereof. Parentheses des- 
ignate year of entry as a Seminar member. 

Copyright © 2007 and published by the Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality 

Business Office Editorial Office 

Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits Faber House 

3601 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 102 College Road 

Tel. 314-633-4622 Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3841 

Fax 314-633-4623 Tel. 617-552-0860; Fax 617-552-0925 

E-mail ijs@jesuitsources.com E-mail fleminpb@bc.edu 



Jesuits and the Homeless 

Companions on Life's Journey 



William E. Creed, S.J. 



STUDIES IN THE SPIRITUALITY OF JESUITS 

39/4 • WINTER 2007 



the first word . . . 



The youth skulking under the visor of his baseball hat displayed a 
new evolutionary mutation. He grasped his Bic in a clenched fist, thumb 
and three fingers wrapped around it in a stranglehold with only the pinky 
folded underneath, as though ready to plunge it daggerlike into the heart 
of the English language. This vision should not have come as a surprise. 
Anyone who deals with student communication knows that the current 
generation no longer has the benefit of the legendary brass-edged ruler ap- 
plied across the back of the hand to ensure a meticulous tracing of Palm- 
er-method swirls and flourishes. For years we've watched them pump 
their hands during exams, as though ten minutes of writing in a blue book 
causes cramps and convulsions. Fve noted how many of them squeeze 
their writing instruments between the knuckles of the index and middle fin- 
ger and guide it twitching and scraping across the page, leaving a trail of 
broken printed capital letters in its wake, shattered remnants of the words 
once consecrated by Milton and Donne. The languid loops of Palmer have 
been supplanted by the twitches of Parkinson's. Years ago I gave up on es- 
say questions for the finals. They do take-home essays on their laptops and 
hand them in before they do a relentlessly objective exam during the pre- 
scribed time. 

Yes, evolution continues. What further evidence do we need? Some 
generations back we lost prehensile feet (and tails) in exchange for oppos- 
able thumbs. Good trade, that. As we continue down our Darwinian trail, 
I predict that that thumb, the glory of our species, will grow longer, lose its 
nail and develop a knuckle that has rotated ninety degrees inward to ac- 
commodate text messaging and the control buttons of Atari play stations. 
The skull will continue to evolve as well. A few generations ago we yielded 
our sagittal crests and opted for rounded foreheads. This was a less fortu- 
itous development, since it facilitated the wearing of baseball caps, day and 
night, indoor and out, formal or casual. Unless I'm very much mistaken, 
future skulls will feature a temporal void in front of the left ear and a single 
horizontal bony protrusion from the cheekbone to cradle cell phones. At 
the same time, the ear canal will expand to an inch and a half in diameter to 
receive multi-track ear buds from iPods. Homo sapiens will go the way of 
Australopithecus, and a new species will replace us: Homo iPhoneicus prolix. 

In addition to physical development, this current spasm of evolution 
has its tribal consequences as well. As a creature of the-ink-and-paper gen- 



zn 



eration, I'm a bit disconcerted by the social implications of this evolution- 
ary bobsled ride through cyberspace. What could be more upsetting than 
seeing boy and girl wandering across campus in the romantic glow of twi- 
light, holding adjacent hands while each exterior hand grasps a cell phone 
to facilitate a conversation with someone else. Whatever happened to the 
splendid rampage of post-adolescent hormones? Take away the romantic 
element. How many of us are nibbled to death by e-mails about the most 
inconsequential questions from students who would rather give up pizza 
and diet soda for a week than appear during office hours for an actual face- 
to-face conversation? Some researchers have actually found a pattern of 
students sending e-mails to their roommates while both are present in the 
same room. Electronic communication has supplanted human interaction. 
It's more comfortable. Safer. 

Marshall McLuhan had it backwards. In the 1960s, when he was intro- 
ducing his readers to the notion of communication, he proposed the theory 
that the newly wired world of media would create a " global village/' Non- 
sense. He could not have been more deluded. We've had McLuhan's com- 
munications revolution and been tied together by film, radio, and television 
for decades, and more recently the Internet has been added to the mix. Yet, 
the world has never been more divided. Audiences do not use media to gain 
information but to reinforce their own preconceptions. We have all the symp- 
toms of entertainment addiction. Anything to avoid facing the real world. 
With the proliferation of media, the fragmentation of cultures has accelerated. 
People in red states listen to Rush Limbaugh, watch Fox News, and believe 
that people who read the New York Times and tune in to National Public Radio 
are engaged in a vast conspiracy to force them to eat sushi and drink Chablis. 
And vice versa, of course. People in red states are trying to get us to kill our- 
selves in nascar races after downing a six-pack and four pounds of fried ribs. 

As an antidote to McLuhan's thesis about the "global village" myth, 
may I suggest the proposition that effective communication occurs in in- 
verse proportion to the available media of communication. That is, the 
more people withdraw into their own warm, fuzzy cocoon of selective elec- 
tronic media, the less they are able to interact and communicate with others 
in any meaningful way. Now that everyone has access to a word processor, 
e-mail and a photocopier, who reads the stuff that clutters bulletin boards 
and mail boxes every day of the week? 

With the vast number of available channels of communication, we've 
lost access to a common realm of experience. Once upon a time, most of us 
believed film and television provided the contemporary lingua franca. Af- 
ter a few years of trying to draw examples from current media that students 
could relate to, I've discovered that they do not really watch television or go 
to movies very often. The TV is on, but it has become an environment, not 
an event. It's background noise. And remember, I deal mostly with film 



IV 



majors, who are supposed to be attuned to such things, these future film 
makers are learning the craft by posting messages for their friends on Face 
Book, not by watching the work of perfect strangers, who are irrelevant to 
their interests. Who cares about John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock anyway? 
Fifty years ago, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca built their highly success- 
ful television comedy on parodies of then-current films. They could as- 
sume their television audience would be familiar with the material and get 
the point of the parody. No one can do that anymore. Ask how many have 
seen a current film or have watched a current television series, and few 
hands will go up. 

Grumpiness about the devolution of the human race as one generation 
passes into another seems to come as part of the package that includes arthritis 
in the big toe and getting up at night. In recent years we've had "the media" to 
blame for evolution's downward spiral. Veteran teachers state with certainty that 
television addiction has all but led students to an unending quest for entertain- 
ment in classes, and the remote control has shortened their attention span to that 
of the fruit fly. In Radio Days, a Woody Allen film from 1987 and set in the 1940s, 
distraught parents bring their wayward ten-year-old to the rabbi for a good talk- 
ing-to. They agree that his behavior problems stem from too much radio. Dur- 
ing my juniorate days in the 1950s, a professor told us not to waste our time dur- 
ing Christmas vacation by reading novels. (Trash like Dickens, Thackeray, and 
Eliot were among the few choices made available to us.) Instead, he urged a lei- 
surely reading of Pliny's letters in translation. Clearly, for this man, vernacular 
literature marked the degradation of Western culture. The pattern seems consis- 
tent. The older generation has always despaired of the younger, and the younger 
has always felt free to ignore its elders and go merrily along its way. This realiza- 
tion helps put many of our worries into perspective. 

After the senescent grumpiness has been ventilated, then what? Rais- 
ing arms against a sea of generational change holds as much promise as op- 
posing evolution itself. We might just as well lament that this new fashion 
of teetering on two feet won't last because it clearly undercuts the stability 
we had on four. On chilly mornings our ancestral fur coat might be an ad- 
vantage as well. After curing the rhetorical dyspepsia, I think two prob- 
lems really prompt my discomfort. First, I fear a growing depersonaliza- 
tion of human interaction. In the Kafkaesque world that may be aborning, 
one could imagine the day when some university administrator will inform 
me by e-mail that my services will not be required next year, and that the 
bursar will cease making electronic salary transfers into my account. (As 
though I get to see my salary anyway.) Within hours, the provincial will 
send his own e-mail reassigning me to a parish on an uninhabited island in 
the Bering Sea. For a personal touch, he may note that in looking over my 
folder on his hard drive, he has recalled that I have this thing for walrus- 
es. (Or have begun to look like one. By that time our personnel files will be 



copiously illustrated and regularly updated.) At that point cura personalis 
will have evolved into cura electronica. As for people of my ilk, returning to 
quill pens looks quite appealing, not to mention flint-tipped spears. 

The second source of my discomfort stems from pride. I'm just not 
very good at these new styles of communication; therefore, in some zany, 
irrational way they have become the enemy. I don't own a cell phone and 
have no idea how to download songs from Napster into a device that is 
wired directly into my skull. I can't imagine what it would be like to try 
to run a power-point presentation while lecturing, showing a series of film 
clips, and trying to keep contact with a class. I have no interest in learning 
how to doctor photos from a cell phone with Photoshop or to edit film clips 
on Avid or Final Cut Pro. Through the years I've developed my own quite 
satisfactory style of lecturing from Manila folder of notes perched on a lec- 
tern. Why change? Why leave my comfort zone? Still, why are students 
dozing off in class more frequently than they used to? Can it be ... ? Naw, 
they've been up all night with You Tube or Space Invaders. It could never 
be that Fve fallen behind the generation gap. Blame the media. Blame the 
younger generation. "Rabbi, he listens to the radio all day." 

In moments of brutal honesty, I have to wonder if Fm encased in 
my own shell of the familiar and comfortable as much as my younger col- 
leagues insulate themselves in their own electronic bunker. Can it be we're 
all solipsists in our own particular way? As any parent can tell us, it's re- 
ally hard to communicate across the generational void. It's even harder 
to admit that a gap has two sides to it. Every once in a while, a student 
gives me a new way of looking at subject matter I've been familiar with for 
years. It's a strange reaction, but although I really do appreciate the fresh 
insight, it's possible that a bit of resentment enters the mix. The student 
has seen something that I missed. This may force me to reassess my own 
secure, time-tested interpretations. Something new and different pushes 
me along an evolutionary path I'm not particularly eager to follow. I have 
to rethink my approach, admit a limitation in my previous position, and 
that's not a pleasant prospect. It's a bother. It's humbling. 

Real dialogue demands a willingness to listen and realize that our 
own position may face some rather serious revision. Conversation dif- 
fers from the usual rec-room oratory that only pours new layers of con- 
crete over the intellectual escarpment that protects all preconceived con- 
clusions as though they are under attack and must be defended even at the 
sacrifice of civility and reason. The defensive mentality comes naturally to 
priests and teachers, since we are more often than not cast in the role of ex- 
perts dispensing truth to others. And, of course, most of the time we find 
support in colleagues of similar backgrounds and mind-sets. Whether the 
gap comes from age, geography, experience, or just a different optic on the 
world, one always faces a challenge in stepping out into the gap and thus 



vz 



risking exposure to new ideas that may deeply change our most cherished 
perspectives. 

In the monograph that follows, Bill Creed recounts an experience of 
stepping out into another world. His journey involves even more risk than 
intellectual panic in the face of having one's long-held ideas challenged by 
students on the other side of the generation gap. Bill has been conducting 
retreats that include homeless people, recovering addicts, and convicted fel- 
ons. The mix brings a remarkable and refreshing perspective to Ignatian 
spirituality, as we might imagine. Most of us Jesuits in the ministry of spiri- 
tual direction understandably and even necessarily spend the bulk of our 
time with people who share much of our life experience and value system: 
priests, religious, dedicated lay ministers, parishioners, or students search- 
ing for a direction in life. At the same time, like Ignatius dealing with the 
prostitutes of Rome, many Jesuits do remarkable work with men and wom- 
en living at the margins of the law, to be sure. Bill's contribution, I believe, 
brings together the worlds of spirituality and social service in a way that I 
found challenging and, to be honest, a bit disconcerting. I found the essay 
fascinating, and it may even invite a bit of healthy rethinking of some of our 
conventional understandings of the retreat ministry. It may even suggest an 
"evolution" of this oldest Jesuit ministry. 

Richard A. Blake, S.J. 

Editor 



Vll 






CONTENTS 



Introduction . 1 

I. The Retreatants 3 

II. The Retreat 8 

III. Making the Journey Together 18 

Conclusion 25 



IX 



Author's Prenote 

Originally this essay was one of four essays by four Jesuit authors: Joe 
Hoover, Mike O' Grady, Bob Stephan and myself. The seminar asked me 
to write a monograph. I have relied on the insights of these three younger 
Jesuits and I have been inspired by their commitment to a faith that does 
justice. They have internalized the words of Matthew's Gospel: "Insofar 
as you did this to one of the least of these sisters and brothers of mine, 
you did it to Me." 



William E. Creed, S.J., currently teaches courses in spiritual direction 
and the Spiritual Exercises at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola 
University Chicago. After completing degrees in law and counseling 
at luc he earned his D. Min. and started several spirituality centers 
around the Chicago Province, some of which have been transferred to 
other sponsorship. Since 1999 he has been involved with the program 
for providing the Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life for faculty, staff and 
graduate students at luc, and he serves as chaplain for the Jesuit Vol- 
unteer Corps in Chicago. His articles on spirituality have appeared in 
Human Development, Sacred Is the Call, Presence, a Journal of 
Spiritual Directors International, and National Jesuit News. He 
has been offering retreats to the homeless for the past ten years. 



x 



The Spiritual Exercises 
and the Homeless 



A desire to open the Spiritual Exercises to the most 
marginalized of the urban poor has led to a program 
that involves shelters, recovery programs, and re- 
treat houses in several American cities. Some for- 
merly homeless people credit the experience for 
changing their lives and have become facilitators 
for others. The exchange across economic and cul- 
tural boundaries has also affected the lives of the Je- 
suits and their colleagues, who have embarked on a 
journey of self-discovery hand in hand with the re- 
treatants. 



F 



Introduction 

or ten years a few of us Jesuits have been in contact with persons who 
are homeless, persons who are living in transitional shelters, trying to 
get off drugs and alcohol, trying to get their lives together. 1 



It all began with a phone call from Richard Baumann, S.J., the Chi- 
cago Provincial. "Bill, as you end your sabbatical, I'd like you to bring 
the Exercises in adapted form to the materially poor." Surprised by his 
request, but having heard a similar request from a former Jesuit, Edward 
Shurna, who now worked with the homeless, I asked, "Have you been 



1 Jesuits have been involved with persons who are homeless throughout our histo- 
ry. Ignatius of Loyola began St. Martha's House for prostitutes. Recently canonized Alber- 
to Hurtado, S.J., established Hogar de Christo (Christ's Home) for the homeless in Chile. 
Horace B. McKenna, S.J., founded some (So Others Might Eat), and Martha's Table, soup 
kitchens for homeless men and women. 

1 



* William E. Creed, S.J. 



talking with Ed Shurna?" "No. Why?" "Well, three times during my sab- 
batical, Ed has said that it would be good to offer retreats to the home- 
— 1-ll ^ — ^^^^^^ less. Would homeless retreats fulfill your 

request to bring the Exercises in adapted 
We have learned that a mix form to the materially poor?" "Of course 
of retreatants makes for a it would." And with that phone conver- 
better retreat community, sation, retreats for the homeless began. 
So we take men from four Later the provincial named the venture 
shelters in different regions "The Ignatian Spirituality Project." I will 
within a city. call it isp. 

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Soon goals for the proj- 

ect were established and implemented. 
They were summarized by Michael O'Grady, S.J., who was the first Jesuit 
scholastic to join in the retreats to the homeless. 

The purpose of isp has been to provide those who are homeless an oppor- 
tunity to experience the gift of some Ignatian Exercises in adapted form. This 
initiative has several goals in mind. 

First, to conduct weekend retreats and other spiritual experiences with 
persons currently living in transitional homeless shelters. 

Second, to form, train and involve formerly homeless persons and oth- 
ers — Jesuit and lay collaborators — in developing competence and confidence 
with Ignatian Spirituality in order to present retreats, days of reflection and 
spiritual companionship. 

Third, to foster outreach to the homeless in other cities in the belief that ev- 
eryone anywhere who is homeless has a spiritual life. 

Fourth, to study the systemic issues which foster homelessness and network 
with those who seek to change those structures which tolerate the injustice of 
homelessness. 2 

These goals have been acted on over the last nine years. The first 
goal is to offer retreats, isp offered the seventy-fifth overnight retreat in 
April 2007. The second goal is the formation of local teams, isp has func- 
tioning teams in place in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and San Francisco, 
while the first year of team formation is occurring in Atlanta, Baltimore 
and Cincinnati. The third goal is outreach. Plans are set to reach out to 
two new cities in the United States for each of the next five years. During 
2007 and 2008, New York and St. Louis will each host their first overnight 



2 Michael O'Grady, S.J., Stories, Spiritual Exercises, and Subversions at the Margins: 
Homeless Men's Retreats and Homo Narrans (Integrative Seminar, Loyola University Chi- 
cago, 2000), 4. 



Jesuits and the Homeless $ 



homeless retreat. The fourth goal is networking to end the injustice of 
homelessness. isp collaborates with Coalitions for the Homeless and oth- 
er organizations that advocate affordable housing, job training, and ad- 
diction prevention and recovery in the major u.s. cities. Interestingly, we 
have discovered that many working for social change are un-churched 
persons. In January 2006 a fifth goal was established when a national or- 
ganization was formed. A not-for-profit corporation has been established 
to coordinate and implement a nation-wide collaboration to end the in- 
justice of homelessness by bringing the gift of Ignatian spirituality to that 
effort. 3 Several grants have been received to foster the work of this nation- 
al organization. 4 The Jesuit provincials' concern for those entrenched in 
poverty seems to coincide with the initiatives of the Ignatian Spirituality 
Project for the Homeless. Those suffering from chronic homelessness are 
certainly entrenched in poverty, dramatized, perhaps, as they live on the 
streets among the wealthiest and most prosperous people in the history 
of human civilization. 



I. The Retreatants 

Four years ago a religious woman informed isp that she was invit- 
ing our team to the Caribbean for a retreat with the homeless. How 
had she heard about these retreats? "In a homily you gave in Chi- 
cago, Father." When shall we come? "Wouldn't it be good to leave Chi- 
cago winter weather behind? How about January?" isp asked that this en- 
ergetic nun line up twelve retreatants who were homeless, but I insisted 
that she should make sure that they had been sober for at least six weeks. 
Two days before the retreat, she faxed isp, "I have ten, not twelve, and 
they are not the apostles." That should have been the signal that isp was 
walking into foreign territory, foreign in more ways than being outside 
the United States. This was the only retreat where the men, one at a time, 
during the group sessions, left the room for ten to fifteen minutes. Wayne 
Richard, a team member and former cocaine addict, recognized that they 



3 For further information on isp, consult the Website:www.ignatianspiritiialityproject.org 

4 isp has received two foundation grants in the last year and support from three Je- 
suit provinces. For eight years it relied on the gifts of individual donors and the donated 
services of Jesuits, laymen, and now lay women. Some retreat houses have donated space 
or given a discounted cost for the homeless retreat. 



* William E. Creed, S.J. 



were going outside the retreat house to the field behind and harvesting 
leaves from naturally growing plants. These leaves, when chewed, gave ' 
them a "high." Even while on retreat! Awareness was altered, not by 
grace, but by Ganja! 

As the Caribbean retreat illustrated, sobriety is a necessary con- 
dition for a retreatant to have a significant experience of grace, Timothy 
Leary and others experimenting with drugs for a spiritual experience not- j 
withstanding. Ignatius today might add to his fifth introductory obser- 
vation in the Exercises, which dealt with generosity and openness: "Wel- 
come only retreatants for any spiritual exercise who have indicated their 
magnanimous spirit by fasting from drugs and /or alcohol at least during 
the retreat." 

isp consults directors of transitional shelters and overnight shelters 
to extend the invitation to the overnight retreat to those staying at their 
shelters. These directors and their case counselors know who in their shel- 
ter is habitually using and who is trying to abstain, isp relies on the recom- 
mendation of the shelter directors and case counselors. We give several 
criteria to shelter directors as they select retreatants from their shelter. We 
tell the shelter directors that the retreat works best when the retreatants 
have been free of alcohol and drugs for several weeks, have been on some 
stabilizing medication, can speak about their own story, and can listen 
to another's story, and have been making the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics 
Anonymous. 

A long-term connection exists between the Spiritual Exercises and 
the Twelve Steps. During a blustery winter storm in New York City in 
1939, Fr. Edward Dowling, S.J., visited Bill Wilson, founder of a.a. Wilson 
realized that Dowling was the first clergyman to affirm the spiritual val- 
ue of the Twelve Steps when he published an article in The Queen's Work. 5 
Within the year of that first meeting, Wilson was in St. Louis in conver- 
sation with Missouri Province Jesuits as they outlined the amazing par- 
allels between the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the 
Twelve Steps. 6 Wilson asked, "Who is this fellow, Ignatius?" Since then, 
many Jesuits have had both a personal and ministerial familiarity with 
the Twelve Steps. 7 



5 Edward Dowling, S.J., The Queen's Work (St. Louis, 1939). 

6 Id., "Catholic Asceticism and the Twelve Steps," The Queen's Work (St. Louis, 1953). 

7 Bill Wilson, National Clergy Conference on Alcoholism, 1960. 



Jesuits and the Homeless # 



We have learned that a mix of retreatants makes for a better retreat 
community. So we take men from four shelters in different regions with- 
in a city. When retreatants come from multiple shelters rather than from 
any one residence and no one group dominates in numbers, the flow of 
the retreat seems more relaxed, the competitive energy seems less pres- 
ent. Once we led a retreat where the retreatants were from one shelter and 
where the shelter staff came as co-facilitators. Throughout that retreat the 
retreatants seemed to be acting out their authority issues with the staff. 
Or at least something was going on that was not life giving. Maybe there 
is an application here to the saying attributed to Teresa of Avila about reli- 
gious: "Spread them out and they are like 
fertilizer where all sorts of new growth — — — - — — — — — 

occurs, but stack them up and the stink . , „ . 

,,ii .„ Almost all isp retreats for 

rises to the heavens! J 

the homeless have been for 
isp has learned not to have too menAn the Ust year ISP has 

many facilitators, whether J esuits or lay . .. . . * . , 

J _ , ' / ' J initiated teams of women 

persons, harry on, we welcomed twen- . ^ T . i „ , 

f , i ; <- • a • j 2ft Chicago and Boston. 

ty homeless African- American men and ° 

twenty suburbanite white men. The idea ' 
was to develop mentoring relationships 

between these two groups of men, relationships that might continue af- 
ter the retreat. We learned that the homeless men held back in their shar- 
ing and were not ready to be mentored by a "white suburban dude." We 
drew two lessons from this. Our first lesson was to hold the total num- 
ber of homeless retreatants to twelve. No, not because there were twelve 
apostles, but because socially a dozen can become familiar with each oth- 
er, listen to one another, and relax with one another more easily than can 
twenty. The larger numbers seem to be a subtle block to deeper trust and 
sharing. 

Our second lesson involved limiting those who have not been 
homeless to three or four, one-third or one-fourth of the total group. A 
ratio of three or four homeless retreatants to one of those who have not 
been homeless seems to assure the homeless men that they are the major- 
ity rather than the minority. This ratio seems to foster a sense of security 
in those who are homeless and better disposes them to trust. So the total 
number on retreat generally is fifteen. 

One criterion in accepting Jesuits and white suburban males is 
their comfort with those who are of a different race, a different socio- 



* William E. Creed, S.J. 



economic background, and a different religious background. They 
agree to communicate attitudes of acceptance and respect for those 
who repeatedly have failed in abstaining from drugs and alcohol. They 
must be able to listen to others with attentiveness, non-defensiveness, 
and eagerness. Another criterion in accepting Jesuits and white sub- 
urban males is their willingness to share where they are vulnerable 
and struggling, isp believes that everyone struggles with some kind 
of compulsion, obsession, avoidance, and the like. This retreat is an 
appropriate place to face that and to talk about these personal chal- 
lenges in a small group. In fact, Jesuits come on retreat and find them- 
selves facing their struggles and obsessions more truthfully. One Je- 
suit joined a.a. after the retreat because during the retreat he realized 
that he was a binge drinker and needed help to change. Suburban, 
middle-class men come on the retreat with homeless men and discov- 
er God addressing them in and through the men who are homeless. 
Jeremiah, who had not made a retreat in several years, responded to 
isp's invitation to join the retreat. After the retreat he commented that 
"my stuff isn't all that different at root from these men who are deal- 
ing with drug and alcohol addiction. My personal blocks and growing 
areas were challenged and addressed during the retreat in a very life- 
giving way. Surprisingly, I found encouragement and hope in listen- 
ing to these guys who are homeless. " 

The pool of homeless retreatants comes from the seven hundred 
and fifty thousand persons who are homeless in the United States. In 
Chicago the Partnership to End Homelessness conducted a point-in-time 
count and statistical survey on the night of January 27, 2005. 8 They count- 
ed on that one night sixty-seven hundred homeless persons in Chicago. 
Seventeen hundred of these were unsheltered (three hundred fifty were 
women, and thirteen hundred and fifty were men). Most studies indi- 
cate that the homeless do have a profile: 74 percent suffer from substance 
abuse; 50 percent have a mental illness; 67 percent of the homeless popu- 
lation in the United States is African American. More men are chronically 
homeless than women. 

Almost all isp retreats for the homeless have been for men. In the last 
year isp has initiated teams of women in Chicago and Boston. These teams 
now offer overnight retreats and days of reflection for women who suffer 



8 The Partnership to End Homelessness: Homeless Statistics, at www.peth 
.org / homelessness_statistics.html 



Jesuits and the Homeless * 7 



from homelessness. Plans are underway in Baltimore and San Francisco 
to offer retreats for women who are homeless. It is important that wom- 
en, rather than men, facilitate these retreats, since most homeless women 
have been physically and sexually abused by men. 

The personalities, characteristics, and background of those who are 
homeless and on retreat vary. Of the thirteen men on one Cincinnati re- 
treat, three were graduates of Xavier University, and one of these had 
a doctorate. Of the eleven men on our first retreat in the San Francisco 
area, two had dropped out of high school early to become gang mem- 
bers, a third had an mba degree, and a fourth had a doctorate in science. A 
fifth retreatant described himself as a "functional illiterate, because I can't 
write/' So when the group separated to write a letter to God, he asked: 
"Could you write my letter to God for me? I'll tell you what I want to say 
to God." 

isp has heard some surprising stories. Hugh sought us out to come 
on two retreats and one day of reflection. He walks the streets of Chicago 
by day. At night he sleeps at Mary and Joseph Shelter. While on retreat, 
he noted how a blessing in his life had become his curse. He receives 
a monthly check from the Veterans Administration as a former soldier. 
While that steady income for anyone else would be a blessing, it kept 
Hugh in bondage to drugs. "If I have money in my pocket for any length 
of time, I eventually succumb to the desire to purchase drugs." To act 
against this tendency to spend his monthly check on drugs, Hugh accu- 
mulates no savings. Instead, when his check arrives, he buys all sorts of 
things — CDs, $1,000 suits, and the like and takes his friends out to restau- 
rants for meals. One Jesuit noted that he was inspired by Hugh's gener- 
osity, but wished that "Hugh would find a better way of implementing 
Ignatius's sixteenth-introductory observation about agere contra/' Hugh 
maintains that acting against his propensity to spend his money on drugs 
by getting rid of the money is the best way now for him. "It's the only 
way I've found to stay sober the way God wants. I've been sober for four- 
teen months. And I really do want to remain sober." 

Typically, retreatants can read and write. Most come from a Baptist re- 
ligious background and so know the Bible. Many have been gang members. 
Many have been incarcerated. Most have no income. The great majority have 
been trapped in bondage to alcohol and drugs since they were teens, an ad- 
diction that is often the significant factor that led them into homelessness. 



8 * William E. Creed, S.J. 



II. The Retreat 

The isp retreat for the homeless was established in the belief that 
those who are homeless have a spiritual life. Paying attention to 
this spiritual life is pivotal if they are to move out of homelessness 
and the addictions that seem to thwart hope. The retreat offers hope and 
meaning through trust in God. isp announces the retreat to shelters with 
these words: 

A Retreat for those residing in shelters who have been sober for 
two months 

• A time to let your experience teach you 

• A time to listen to others whose lives give you hope 

• A time to share something of your hopes 

• A time to deepen your trust in God 

The retreat has a rhythm of inviting and challenging. It fosters a grow- 
ing interior awareness through sharing personally with others in pairs, in 
small groupings, and in the large group of fifteen. The retreat invites each 
person to bring his self and his history to the retreat. Almost always the 
depth of the experience that the retreatants have in the retreat is beyond any- 
thing they have previously experienced, even though they might have made 

other "retreats," have attended a.a. meet- 
ings and participated in group and indi- 
The great majority of vidual counseling. 

retreatants have had their A , 

1 . t 1 , As we imagined a retreat 

lives sabotaged by .,1 .1 1 , \ A .1 

jj. . with the homeless, we nave done the 

addiction. Addiction "i gn atian thing." We have offered to 

thrives on denial and companion these persons in some spiri- 

deceit. lne retreat focuses tua j exerc i ses However, we chose to do 
on freedom from addiction, so m a manner different from the normal 
compulsion, obsessions. way in w hich the Spiritual Exercises are 

_^^^^^^_^^^_^_^_ given. We chose to make whatever spiri- 
tual exercises these homeless men made. 
And we chose to make them in the same way as they were making them. 
We also chose to disclose our own spiritual movements in the group as 
we invited these men to open and share vulnerably what they were expe- 






Jesuits and the Homeless * 



riencing. So, although we were facilitating the retreat, all of us on retreat 
in effect were giving spiritual exercises to one another. 

Fear was the first reality (or illusion) we encountered — fear within 
ourselves and fear within the men who were homeless. So we began to 
address this fear at the beginning of the retreat. We noted that as men we 
were accustomed to facing other men competitively, with our strengths. 
We were unaccustomed to sharing with other men our fears. With 
the help of George Davis, a former homeless cocaine addict and now a 
shelter counselor, we developed a spiritual exercise on fear. We shared 
two things regarding fear: a fear I've overcome and a fear I still struggle 
with. Facing the fear factor in our own lives as Jesuits was challenging. 
But sharing those fears in a group with other Jesuits and homeless men 
was even more difficult. We learned that all of us men, Jesuits and home- 
less, have many common fears: fear of speaking in groups, fear of heights, 
fear of the dark, fear of sickness and long suffering, fear of getting close 

j to another person, fear of loneliness, fear of the future, fear of failure, fear 

| of who I would be if I were really successful. 

This last fear, "Who would I be if I were really successful?" hit the 
homeless men differently than it hit the Jesuits. The homeless men knew 
they were drug addicts living on the streets. One homeless man put it this 
way: "I know how to live with drugs as my main objective in life. I know 
how to live on the streets. I've done that for seventeen years. But who will 
I become if I am successful at getting off these drugs and off the streets?" 
The Jesuits faced a different fear of success. One Jesuit put it this way: "I 
know how to live this vowed life following Jesus, hit and miss, compro- 
mising, acknowledging that I'm only human. Who would I become if I 
really gave myself to God more completely than I ever have? Who would 
I become if I let go of half measures and somehow, in God's grace, my 
hit and miss ways were transformed? Maybe I'd become holy. Now that 
scares me." 

The men who were homeless addicts were filled with a fear few Je- 
suits had: fear of relapse into drugs. This fear drew these homeless men 
to a retreat, to God, to facing the truth with thorough honesty. It is no sur- 
prise that sharing these fears openly with fourteen other men took trust. 
The depth of the fear that was shared increased the depth of trust. And 
we reflected on how fear can influence not only our own personal lives 
but also our social, corporate lives. H. A. Williams writes: 



10 * William E. Creed, S.J. 



If you want to discover the difference which Jesus made to humanity, go to 
the New Testament to find out. The answer given is the casting out of people's 
lives of fear. Fear, in the New Testament, is considered to be the root of all evil. 
It is fear which makes people selfish, it is fear which makes them hate, it is fear 
which makes them blind, it is fear which makes them mad. Fear casts out love, 
just as love casts out fear. Which of the two therefore am I going to choose? 9 

The men who were homeless addicts sat in a circle at Angela House 
of Prayer in Michigan City, Indiana, and came to realize how fear pro- 
pelled them to the streets to avoid what- 
^^^^^^^_^_^^^^_ ever pain they wanted to dull by the drug 

experience. The Jesuits acknowledged 
Retreatants have lived a that fear kept them from approacning 

hell on earth. They have the African-American on the street who 

made choices that have was begging for spare change. Here in 

caused great pain to family t he moment, God's Spirit was evoking 
and friends. For many, their deeper trust, trust in our true self below 
bodies carry the scars of the fear; trust of one another, and trust of 

bullets or knife wounds. God. Then we went outside to pray in si- 

lence on the sandy dunes on the eastern 
shore of Lake Michigan. With the Chi- 
cago skyline on the horizon thirty-five 
miles away, the only sound was the lapping of the waves onto the beach. 
We allowed our fear-filled lives to be sorted and sifted. God was bigger 
than our fears. 



m^^mm^^^^^^^^^m 



For most of the homeless men, the quiet of nature was sometimes 
fearful. At Techny Towers Retreat Center, adjacent to an Illinois forest pre- 
serve, the quiet of the woods was threatening. Will there be bears out 
there in the woods? The Jesuits laughed, but our new "brothers in the 
Lord" did not laugh. They were serious. "Just what kind of animals are 
out there?" The men who live on the streets are accustomed to the streets 
of the city, to the rats and mice and dogs of alleys. We assured them, "No, 
only squirrels, birds, maybe a deer, a rare possum, and all of these will 
avoid you." But these men had lived alone on the streets of big cities. 
They had rarely, if ever, experienced the silence of nature, the peace of 
nature. We invited one another to welcome nature as a peaceful gift and 
notice the sounds and the sights. Savor. In the quiet of nature, mulling 
over God's encouragement in the midst of fear, they would later report: 



9 H. A. Williams, True Wilderness (New York: Lippincott, 1965), 70. 



Jesuits and the Homeless -X- 11 



"It was so peaceful. I've never had this peace. I've never felt so safe. Man, 
I want to stay here, like, forever!" 

Hermits, anchorites, the desert fathers and mothers, and others 
dwell in that quiet place as a way of life. Not so Jesuits. We are urban in 
our roots, in our histories, and in our stories. And so with those who are 
homeless. The quiet of nature hopefully becomes not a place "out there" 
but a place "in here" where each person finds his center. It is that center 
which is holy ground, the place we encounter God, until God de-centers 
us once more through the ups and downs of life. 

When the retreat is introduced in a new city, isp generally has visit- 
ed the transitional shelters in that city before the retreat to meet with staff 
and sometimes with prospective retreatants. In this way the staff and pos- 
sible retreatants can learn firsthand who we are and something about the 
retreat. Once we have conducted a retreat in a city or region, the best pro- 
moters of the retreat have been those who have previously made the re- 
treat. The directors of shelters learn from retreatants after the retreat how 
each one was impacted. 

Recently in Chicago isp has been welcomed into a large shelter to of- 
fer spiritual exercises on site. This is a most unusual occurrence because 
shelters receive federal grants and are wary of religious programs. Why 
this change in policy? The program director said: "We see how changed 
our residents are when they return from the retreat. We want to foster 
more of that change, more of that centered peacefulness, and more of that 
openness." 

The spiritual exercises isp presents have been shaped by Ignatian 
spirituality. And so the retreat emphasizes God's incarnational rather 
than transcendent presence. It attends to the concrete life and particu- 
lar history of each person. Reflection on one's life experiences and God's 
presence to the retreatant becomes the focus. The healing of memories 
and the daily examen of awareness are presented during the retreat. 

The great majority of retreatants have had their lives sabotaged by 
addiction. Addiction thrives on denial and deceit. The retreat focuses on 
freedom from addiction, compulsion, obsessions. It invites awareness of 
God's call to freedom to face one's true self, to be in a right relationship 
with others and with God. In doing so, it attends to the twofold purpose 
of the Spiritual Exercises, presented by Ignatius in his first introductory 
observation. "So is the name of spiritual exercises given to any means of 



12 * William E. Creed, S.J. 



preparing and disposing our soul to rid itself of all its disordered affec- 
tions and then, after their removal, of seeking and finding God's will in 
the ordering of our life for the salvation of our soul." 10 Retreatants are 
invited to face the denial of addiction /compulsion, to trust and honest 
transparency about their personal narrative. Retreatants are moved to 
claim their own life story as THE place where God is addressing them. 
In the very concreteness of their personal story, they are seeking God r s 
grace, they are asking for the truth that frees as opposed to the deception 
that imprisons: 

Mike O' Grady has written about the importance of personal narra- 
tive in the homeless retreats. 

A critical element of these retreats is the ability for all persons to share their 
stories in a prayerful and affective environment. A key theme asked and re- 
flected upon within the context of these retreats is this: How has God been 
working in our lives through the people, places and circumstances we have 
encountered? How can we understand the often painful and broken part of 
ourselves as somehow being the very place where God is inviting us into ma- 
turity and deeper relationship? u 

The retreat invites all present to be peers with one another by claim- 
ing, as O'Grady says, 

[t]he truth of how my personal story has been undermined by forces that have 
overwhelmed my personal calling. This retreat invites men to be vulnerable be- 
fore God and before one another by naming concretely those places where I have 
lied, isolated, and indulged my desires to the detriment of my own well being and 
the loss of relationships with family and friends and even with God (12). 

Perhaps no contemporary commentator on the Spiritual Exercises 
has stressed the importance of one's personal story as has John English, 
S.J., in Choose Life. 12 He notes that the second exercise of the First Week of 
the Spiritual Exercises (SpEx no. 56) invites the retreatant to examine the 
events and persons in her life. English states, "Such prayer helps us to 
gain reflective knowledge and an intimate (heartfelt) understanding of 



10 See, for example, The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, trans, and ed. George E. 
Ganss, S.J. (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1992), no. 1. Hereafter this source will be ab- 
breviated to SpEx, followed by the marginal number in parentheses of the passage cited. 

11 0'Grady, "Stories, Spiritual Exercise," unpublished material, 11. 

12 John English, S.J., Choose Life (New York: Paulist, 1978); id., Spiritual Freedom 
(Chicago: Loyola Press, 1995), 262 f. 



Jesuits and the Homeless * 73 



the unique way that God relates to us."" The isp retreat fosters this inti- 
mate awareness of how close God has been to each of us. 

When Ignatius writes about the Eighteenth Annotation of the Ex- 
ercises, he says that the "Spiritual Exercises should be adapted to the dis- 
position of the persons who desire to make them, that is, to their age, 
education, and ability" (SpEx. 18). Many aspects of the First Week of the 
Exercises in adapted form are both appropriate and beneficial in leading 
to greater self-awareness and deeper awareness of God. Retreatants have 
lived a hell on earth. They have made choices that have caused great pain 
to family and friends. For many, their bodies carry the scars of bullets or 
knife wounds. Occasionally while a retreatant 
is telling his story, he pulls up his shirt and 

shows the scars, almost to prove that it is a Because of the focus on 
miracle that he is still alive. Years of alcohol personal narrative, this 
abuse and drug ingestion have left damaged retreat does not discuss 
bodies. Often speech patterns have been af- ideas, attitudes, or even 
fected. Nevertheless, each man has survived. values about which 

God has sustained rum. reasonable persons can 

As retreatants present their life stories in differ. The retreat invites 
a small group, they receive a one-page hand- everyone to honor the 
out. It lists evocative questions that facilitate unique personal experi- 
memories of events and persons. At the end ence of each retreatant. 

of this small-group session, retreatants are in- 

vited to look for patterns, to notice which be- 
haviors and relationships led to good choices and which ones led to fur- 
ther destruction. This is the beginning of some effective discernment. 

The method of initiating a topic in the retreat is witness. On each re- 
treat, isp invites a formerly homeless person to give witness to his life on the 
streets as an addict and his life now in recovery. Wayne Richard has often 
joined the team. He speaks with credibility and his story is gripping. 

My Grandma raised me. When I was in fourth grade I learned that 
my Mama died when I was a baby. When I asked how she died, 
Grandma said: "Your mother died from a brain aneurism." My 
grandfather told me that my mother died from my father hitting her. 



L3 



Id., Spiritual Freedom, 262 f. 



14 * William E. Creed, S.J. 



When I was in eighth grade, Grandma died. Grandpa's new 
wife didn't want me around. So after staying with distant rela- 
tives for awhile, I moved in with some high school friends and 
their family. After graduation from a Catholic high school, I hit the 
streets where cocaine became a way of life — for seventeen years. 14 

Wayne becomes a sign of hope for the retreatants who are still homeless 
and still struggling. They know he understands their story. They realize 
that he has faced challenges similar to theirs, yet here he is, as it were, 
raised from the death of drugs and homelessness. Change is possible. 
"Maybe there is hope for me." 

In Ignatian terms, this retreat focuses on the First Week of the Spiri- 
tual Exercises. It attends to those practices that have been self-indulgent 
and avoided God at the center of life. It seeks conversion from self ab- 
sorption and isolation. In terms of the Twelve Steps, it attends especially 
to the first three steps. In step 1 alcoholics admit that they are powerless 
over alcohol and that their lives have become unmanageable. In step 2 
they came to believe that a Power greater than themselves could restore 
them to sanity. And in step 3 they made a decision to turn their will and 
their lives over to the care of God. Attention to the un-manageability of 
life, to the belief that God's initiative can save someone from destructive 
tendencies, and to entrusting oneself into God's care are woven through- 
out the retreat. The witness given by Wayne and others emphasizes what 
God can do in our lives. 

Several of the annotations of the Spiritual Exercises are operative 
during this short retreat: freedom from addictive behavior (annotation 1); 
focusing on that one reality that God is inviting me to face (annotation 
2); giving oneself generously on retreat by giving of self to the other re- 
treatants by speaking the truth and accepting others as they are (annota- 
tion 5); and allowing God to deal with each person uniquely rather than 
trying to preach or correct another retreatant (annotation 15). 

The retreat adapts the First Week experiences of Ignatius' s Spiritual 
Exercises and invites each retreatant to allow God to be the center, to sur- 
render to God and God's way. For everyone on the retreat, no matter how 
close the retreatants are to God in their lives, there is some place where it 
is difficult to surrender. The isp retreat process leads each person to some 



14 



Wayne Richard, unpublished autobiography, 2002. 



Jesuits and the Homeless ?!- 15 



further opening to God in trust. But it does so, riot through preaching, 
but by sharing our stories. We are opened to God's Spirit in listening to 
one another's stories and struggles. And then, after listening, we have 
time to pray in quiet, sometimes through a guided prayer of the imagina- 
tion, sometimes through a ritual of healing of memories. 

The team teases whoever happens to be the team leader: "Do we 
have to meet for another team-discernment process?" In fact, during the 
retreat the team meets three to five times together to "discern" how these 
particular homeless retreatants seem to be doing. The team discerns how 
the group is forming into a community, whether any particular individ- 
ual seems to be struggling, and, especially for a Sunday, "what spiritual 
exercises might be best for this particular group as we all prepare to leave 
retreat." At the end of the retreat, a team ^— ^— — — — — — 

discernment focuses on whether anyone memsoer a Jesuit prmches 

of the retreatants might be ready to be in- , . . ., J, 

. & . J or directs the Exercises, 

vited back to give a witness. r t . A/ , T .„ , 

° he realizes that he will be 

Because of the focus on person- receiving grace just as the 

al narrative, this retreat does not discuss retreatants will On the 

ideas, attitudes, or even values about retreat with those who are 

which reasonable persons can differ. homeless, this is 

The retreat invites everyone to honor the , . . . 

J . . , more explicit. 

unique personal experience of each re- 

treatant. It does so in the belief that God — — — — — — 

is dealing interiorly with each retreatant and each retreatant is respond- 
ing to God uniquely. In summary, the retreat invites facing fears and lean- 
ing into God in trust, acceptance of my story and prayer to surrender my 
"inordinate attachments" to God, noticing moments of closeness to God, 
a healing of memories, formulating a letter to God, trusting God in this 
moment, performing an examen of awareness to review the retreat expe- 
rience, and looking toward the future with hope. 

Several retreatants have written about their experience. Art made 
the retreat recently and then wrote isp about his retreat experience as 
one of peace but more significantly about the shift in his attitude to- 
ward himself. He can now appreciate that he has dignity and respect 
and is a good person. 

Some "me" time! That's what I said about the retreat I attend- 
ed the weekend of 2/17-2/18. It was very refreshing and had the 
most peaceful atmosphere. I learned who I am, and what I can 



16 * William E. Creed, S.J. 



do when a little patience, love, and most of all faith is applied. 
There were seventeen strangers that attended, in about 45 minutes 
of introducing ourselves and sharing truths, but most of all being 
honest with each other. It was like we knew each other for years. 
The most amazing part was how the presence of God had entered 
our hearts. I thought how good it would be to stay longer, but in- 
stead I returned home with those pleasant feelings and blessed 
thoughts, I pray they will last until I can return. I'm looking for- 
ward to another journey into my self. You know! I'm not such a 
bad person, really I'm not. 

Steve made the retreat some time ago and wrote eloquently about 
his life on the streets and how the retreat impacted him. He first told his 
story on retreat. In the telling he experienced integrity and a felt sense of 
being loved. 

I first told my full story on a retreat with homeless addicts sponsored by the 
Society of Jesus. A "normal" upbringing with family and friends, no matter 
how dysfunctional, does little to prepare one for life on the streets. But human 
beings are incredibly adaptive creatures. I learned quickly to scam money and 
steal food, to see strangers as marks. On the streets, life contracts to the imme- 
diate: Where is the next hit, the next drink, the next meal? Where will I sleep? 
Where can I piss? Giving up on society, my days became an endless search for 
isolation. But there is none. No privacy, no peace, no love, no life. I slept wher- 
ever I found shelter, or wherever I fell when I gave up on finding it. I awoke to 
the sounds of traffic and the sight of feet rushing past my face, and all I could 
do is sit and stare and wish to disappear. This is the real Skid Row. This is Hell. 
This is where you hate yourself and fear the world and those you considered 
friends, where you don't even have the strength to try to hide your stink and 
dirt and there's nothing to do but beg for booze and wonder when you'll die. 

Though I lived in a halfway house at the time, the Jesuit leader invited me 
to come along. Once there, he asked me to tell my story. I believed I had noth- 
ing to offer. My guilt and shame strove to silence me. My fear choked me. I 
was the only white man there. I lived in a recovery home that would seem like 
a mansion to the other men. Material comfort had returned to me quickly. I 
had a good job. They would resent me. But I trusted the priest. Kneeling in the 
chapel, I prayed, "Please let me see that my entire life has been preparation for 
this moment." Then I told my story. "My name is Steve, and I am a drug ad- 
dict." . 

As I spoke, I felt the truth of that phrase and the power of community for 
the first time. My experience began to make sense. For the first time, I felt at 
home. Circled by 13 homeless African American men in a suburban Chicago 
retreat center, I began to recognize the source of the spiritual homelessness 



Jesuits and the Homeless * 17 



that led me to the streets — the distance from my brothers and Cod that fuels 
my fear. For the first time, I felt whole. I felt good. I felt that I could help, that 
there was a plan. Far from resenting me, the men embraced me. They called 
me brother. "Don't worry, man," one said. "You're one of us." And for the first 
time, I felt it. Later, others told their stories, and I saw their faces soften as we 
laid down our street-smarts and listened and trusted. And a voice in my heart 
said, God's love is here - 15 

This telling of one's story does center one in the reality of one's per- 
sonal life, in the events of one's personal "scripture/' where there are choic- 
es for life in God and choices for death unto death. Being received as one 
tells one's story brings about a new level of connection with one another 
and with one's deep self. Hearing the truth of each other's stories creates a 
bond with one another, but especially with one's self and with God. In that 
connection it is not uncommon for retreatants to echo Steve's words: "a 
voice in my heart said: "God's love is here." The retreat seems to touch not 
only those who are homeless but Jesuits, as well, laity, everyone involved. 
One Jesuit wrote as follows after the retreat: 

It was late Saturday night when I went into chapel and said to the Lord 
in prayer: "What is going on? I feel as if down deep in my center I have been 
opened up to You, God. And I want to say "Yes" to You as I have never before 
said Yes, even though I have been a vowed Jesuit for years." I walked out of 
chapel and asked. "What is going on here?" of a team member who had been 
homeless and on drugs. He said that "these men have been homeless and ad- 
dicted to alcohol and drugs. They have lost their jobs, their families and their 
self-respect. Now they are trying to turn their lives around, have come on re- 
treat and are being ruthlessly honest about themselves and their true needs. 
They are attempting to put aside a lifestyle of isolation, lies, individualism 
and addiction and entrust themselves to God. God is their last hope. Most are 
here because they do not want to die homeless, and you are witnessing all of 
this." In that first retreat with those who have been homeless, it became clear 
that these men who have been homeless were evangelizing me. 

These testimonies are similar to those Jesuits have received or given 
since the early days of Ignatius. Lives are changed when people begin to 
make some spiritual exercises, even the lives of those who are homeless. 



15 



Steve Diogo, "Homecoming," America Magazine, December 2, 2000. 



18 * William E. Creed, S.J. 



III. Making the Journey Together 

For Jesuits, when the Spiritual Exercises in any form are presented, 
normally we differentiate between "the one making the Exercises" 
and "the one receiving the Exercises." In the isp model, everyone 
makes the retreat, everyone shares openly and honestly, every participant 
is attentive to the movement of God's Spirit. Whenever a Jesuit preaches 
or directs the Exercises, he realizes that he will be receiving grace just as 
the retreatants will. On the retreat with those who are homeless, this is 
more explicit. As a Jesuit or suburban white male facilitates the large or 
small group, he does so with the expectation that, along with men who 
are homeless, he too will be making the retreat, will be asked to share, 
will be "with" the retreatants as peers in some full measure. 

The truth is that it is easy for Jesuits not to know in a personal way 
someone who is poor. The way our society is structured keeps most of us 
away from the very poor, other than the occasional beggar on the streets. 
isp is learning that during our earthly existence bridges can be built be- 
tween those who are rich in so many ways and the homeless poor who 
are surprisingly rich in many other ways. The overnight retreat, and more 
recently, the days of reflection, have become one small bridge. This little 
project echoes what contemporary Jesuits wrote when we spelled out our 
worldwide mission in 1995. We said: 

[Jesuits'] ministry is particularly directed towards 

those who have not heard the Gospel, 

those who are at the margins of the Church or of society, 

those who have been denied their dignity, 

those who are voiceless and powerless, 

those weak in faith or alienated from it, 

those whose needs are greater than they can bear. 16 

Those who are homeless meet almost all of those criteria: at the margins, 
denied dignity, voiceless, alienated from God. The homeless are part of a 
social class that is entrenched in poverty, often chronic poverty. 

Something entirely new seems to occur when homeless men and 
Jesuits share their human stories as peers in a personal way. Perspectives 



16 "Ministerial Priesthood and Jesuit Identity," in Documents of the Thirty-Fourth 
General Congregation of the Society of Jesus (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1995) , 87, 
marginal no. 169 (tabulation added). 



Jesuits and the Homeless $K 19 



change at several levels. Socially, the homeless are no longer perceived 
by the white, middle-class males fearfully, but as human beings, won- 
derful human beings. Similarly, Baptist African-Americans learn that the 
anti-Christ is not embodied in these white Catholic clerics and seminar- 
ians who call themselves Jesuits. Theologically, the white, middle-class 
males find themselves moved in their core by the witness of these men 
who happened to be struggling with homelessness and addiction. It is 
as if these homeless men become God's messengers. Everyone on retreat 
tastes God's love present in the mutual trust and transparent communi- 
cation that occurs. The personal stories and the grace of telling one's story 
and being received in the telling gives everyone the knowledge that, as 
Steve said, "God's love is here." 

isp has learned that this relationship can be carried into the every- 
day life. One way, among several, is through one's personal daily exam- 
en. isp developed an Examen of Awareness (or Consciousness Examen) to 
be made in one's imagination with a poor friend. "Rummage backward 
through the day accompanied by someone you know who is poor." As 
Jesuits began to practice this examen, they were surprised. They were 
not challenged to live a simpler lifestyle or to live their vow of poverty 
more authentically. What they did experience, almost to a man, was a 
change in perspective. As they reviewed their day, bringing along their 
poor friend in their imagination, they discovered that this poor friend 
was gentler, more affirming, more accepting of the Jesuit than he was of 
himself. The new relationships formed during the retreat do constitute 
something new: a new perspective regarding one another, but especially 
a new perspective toward oneself. "I am not who I thought I was. I am 
far more gifted and have taken my gifts for granted." Or, "I am not a bad 
person even though I have done some terrible things." 

Jesuits are contemplatives in action who are centered on doing 
God's will with an emphasis on the "doing." They are not monks who 
focus on the contemplative aspect of life within the monastery, but are 
companions of Jesus on a mission, contemplatives in action. And the set- 
ting for ministry is usually in some urban area. Jesuits are teachers of stu- 
dents, inevitably learning as they teach. Jesuits are preachers of the Word, 
hearing and challenged by that Word as they preach it. What is striking 
about this new way of "being with" those who are homeless is that every- 
one is invited to speak as a peer. The accomplishments and successes and 
expertise of Jesuits and suburban whites are not formally presented dur- 



20 * William E. Creed, S.J. 



ing the retreat. Rather, the retreat invites a man to focus on his particular 
personal struggle which is shared as each homeless person talks about his 
struggle with drugs or alcohol. All involved in the retreat share with per- 
sonal examples, personal stories. 

Joseph Hoover, S.J., writes about his personal experience of the "be- 
ing with" aspect of the retreat with men who are homeless. 

The first step in all the talk of deep Ignatian transformation is very simple: to be 
with. This is what homeless retreats are, fundamentally: a "being with/ 7 Be with 
the people who are suffering, as the first response. Be with. And allow them to be 
with our own suffering. 

Even as I read what I've just written, I think to myself: Don't we have docu- 
ments that tell us to be with the. poor? Haven't we said this again and again? I 
still need reminders. To be with. To just show up, where people are. ... I need to 
be reminded. In the New Testament, James, John and Peter swore they would 
never leave the side of Christ. And they didn't. Until they did. "We are Jesuits 
^ m and we have Decree Four and we will never 

leave Christ in the poor," until we do, and 



Here Jesuits and Others face we do again and again. Anyway, this Jesuit 

their weakness in trust of does ' a S ain and a § ain - l need to be remind- 

God and in trust of one ed: Be witk Be 7 th ' Be witk homeless * 

J treats, very simply are a way to be with. w 

another. Each speaks about 

this weakness. Robert Stephan, S.J., the National 

Coordinator of isp from 2005 to 2007, re- 
^^^^^^^^~^~" — ^~ ^~ fers to this "being with" as accompani- 
ment. 18 The isp retreats and ministry reflect an approach of "being with," 
or accompaniment. Gina O'Connell Higgins studied survivors of a cruel 
past over a twenty-year period. 19 She noted that these survivors flour- 
ished, whereas their siblings did not. After closer study, she discovered 
that the survivors of serious deprivation had someone in their lives, a rel- 
ative or neighbor or teacher who affirmed them, believed in them, and 
listened to them. Accompaniment, affirmation, and a listening presence, 
seem to make a significant difference in the men who have not relapsed 
into addiction and homelessness. 



17 Joseph Hoover, S.J., "The Phenomenology of Homeless Retreats" (unpublished 

MS), 6. 

18 It was Stephan's idea to invite Jesuits to write about their experience with the homeless. 

19 Gina O'Connell Higgins, Resilient Adults: Overcoming a Cruel Past (San Francisco: 
Jossey-Bass, 1994.) 



Jesuits and the Homeless $K 21 



Stephan, in his reflections on accompaniment, notes that in a recent 
article for Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits, Kevin O'Brien, S.J., described 
how this approach reflects the work that is done by the Jesuit Refugee Ser- 
vice. 20 O'Brien quotes the comments of Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., in his 
description of accompaniment in the Jesuit Refugee Service. "In so far as 
possible, we want to feel what they have felt, suffer as they have," such that 
we "see the world through their eyes." 21 Theologian Roberto Goizueta has 
also developed similar ideas in his book Caminemos con Jesus. 22 This "the- 
ology of accompaniment" is based on the idea of not only being with oth- 
ers as a passive observer, but in walking with one another. "To accompany 
another person is to walk with him or her. It is, above all, by walking with 
others that we relate to them and love them" (206). 

Stephan notes that instead of focusing on the importance of the 
role of the one doing the ministry for the needy, the isp retreats for the 
homeless place everyone involved in the retreat on a level ground. The 
isp retreat invites each person, those who are homeless and those who are 
white middle-class and successful in their vocation as Jesuits or as mar- 
ried men, to openness to God's gift of transformation in and through this 
new relationship. It is the experience of accompaniment which awak- 
ens the awareness that "I have more in common with this homeless per- 
son than I ever thought." It often shakes the Jesuit or middle-class mar- 
ried man to recognize how much he has taken for granted the many gifts 
he has received, gifts freely given. Not only are those addicted to alco- 
hol and drugs sobered from their addiction to substance, the Jesuits and 
colleagues who make the homeless retreat are also sobered by the truth 
"There, but for the grace of God, go I." 

Toward the end of each retreat, everyone is invited during a con- 
cluding ritual to name the gift received on retreat. One Jesuit said, "For 
me this retreat has been about radical honesty." He accurately named 
something at the center of the retreat experience. The retreat does focus 
on being honest with a courageous transparency that frees us when light 
is brought into the darkness of denial. Addiction and most disordered 



20 Robert Stephan, S.J., "Transforming Culture: A Model" (unpublished ms), citing 
Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 37, no. 4 (Winter 2005). 

21 Kevin O'Brien, S.J. "Consolation in Action," 30; see Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., 
ActRSJ 20:318, 316. 

22 Roberto Goizueta, Caminemos con Jesus: Toward a Hispanic/Latino Theology of 
Accompaniment (New York: Orbis, 1995), 206. 



22 * William E. Creed, S.J. 



tendencies mushroom in the darkness. The light of truthfulness exposes 
the secret. 

Those familiar with the Exercises remember the first set of Rules for 
Discernment that Ignatius presents. He uses three images or metaphors 
to describe how the "enemy of human nature" operates. The second of 
these three metaphors is that of a false lover. "When the enemy of human 
nature brings his wiles and persuasions, he wants and desires that they 
be received and kept in secret" (SpEx 326). Secrets do seem to gain power 
when they are hidden. One actual grace older Catholics became accus- 
tomed to was addressing in the sacrament of penance shameful secrets 
that were sins. The secret lost much of its power in the telling. It is not un- 
common for retreatants to acknowledge that during a retreat they were 
able to talk about something in a way that felt safe, something they had 
never spoken of before. One retreatant, Ernie, wrote his reflections after a 
guided meditation on "the hidden treasure" of Matthew 13:44. 

I found the word "truth" in a tin box buried on the beach. When I am dis- 
honest and not truthful, I am comparable to a used car salesman selling a car 
which he claims is durable and dependable but lies to the purchaser. The truth 
is that it is just fancy framework with an engine that has not been cared for 
properly. This car will not function well unless the inner working of the car is 
examined. During that examination by one who cares for the car and its en- 
gine, questions must be asked. "Are you willing to have your car examined by 
the one who knows cars?" Am I willing to look at myself honestly? 

Once the lie is uncovered, the reality that had been buried can now 
be healed. Jesuits have spoken something of their own struggle while on 
retreat — usually something only their spiritual director or closest friend 
might have heard from them. 

We all run the danger of living false lives or at least living parts of 
our lives falsely. We use the expectations of others as our norm for be- 
havior. Many of the men who are homeless developed their drug habit as 
gang members concerned about impressing their fellow gang members. 
By focusing on the truth, we crack open the wall of denial and admit the 
possibility of a life more authentic and far more free. 

The retreat focuses, not on strengths, but on struggles. This ap- 
proach could be negative, depressing, self-defeating, and ultimately a 
block to God's grace. However, that is not the experience of retreatants 
during the retreat. This "being with" one another is less in our giftedness 
and accomplishments, but more in our failures, in our running away, in 



Jesuits and the Homeless * 23 



our vulnerability. As I listen to the stories of the retreatants, my own story 
comes alive. Here Hoover names the awakening in his life. 

I confront my own sins, at times my own lack of care. You, homeless, are here 
with me, and I notice that I'm not really into your sad story. I'm holding back. 
In these moments, my sin can rise before me. I get a glimpse of who I am, who 
we are, and what I and we are about. This needs to happen before I'm ready 
for healing. 

As men who've done the exercises, dealing with men who are often in a 
twelve step program, or coming out of years of prison time spent contemplat- 
ing their own sinfulness, we are both able to help each other "reach a deeper 
interior understanding of the reality and malice of our own sins." 23 

While we are on retreat, we live solidarity — in and though our own 
humanity. We all struggle with disordered tendencies, and Ignatius reminds 
us that all spiritual exercising addresses our struggle and invites us to free- 
dom to do God's will. Our solidarity is in our common struggle. 

Ian Mitchell, S.J., who has been involved with the isp retreats for 
two years, has noted that what Paul says about his own weakness is true 
for all on retreat. God's power is best made manifest in weakness (2 Cor. 
12:8). But it is weakness claimed, not denied. It is weakness shared with 
others rather than hidden in secret. It is ________________ 

weakness, not indulged in, but brought 

with hope to the One who alone is holy. ISP thought that its 

Mitchell notes that the foundation for the efforts could remain "just 

grace amid vulnerability dwells in the act spiritual" It is surprising 

of surrender to a God who is uncondi- that a little retreat 

tionally trustworthy. "As Jesus' shows us has led to involvement 

by his example, living life with this kind in social change. 

of trust does not guarantee that one will 

remain safe and secure at all times. The ^^^~ ""~"^ — 

meaning of one's vulnerability, however, is radically changed from the 

appearance of a fool's naivete to the joyful abandon of one aflame with 

love." 24 He cites Jean-Louis Chretien about the power latent in weakness. 

"Weakness has a certain force because it turns itself into a resource. One 

can only defend oneself better by exposing oneself more thoroughly." 25 



23 Hoover, Phenomenology of Homeless Retreats, 7. 

24 Ian Mitchell, S.J., "Holy Insecurity, Spiritual Abandon, and the Role of Hope in 
the Midst of Darkness" (unpublished essay), 11. 

25 Jean-Louis Chretien, The Call and the Response (New York: Fordham, 2004), 101. 



24 * William E. Creed, S.J. 



Jesuits know the Two Standards of the Spiritual Exercises and real- 
ize that when we clothe ourselves in riches, honors, and pride, we are 
not dressed for mission in Christ. Jesuits know that the way and the val- 
ues of Christ involve transparent vulnerability. The experience of the isp 
retreats offers a concrete instance of this transparent vulnerability. Here 
Jesuits and others face their weakness in trust of God and in trust of one 
another. Each speaks about this weakness. For many it is the vulnerabil- 
ity to alcohol, for some it is an exaggerated concern about what others 
think, for others it is anger or lying (yes, this includes Jesuits), for almost 
all it is wrestling with sexuality and chaste living. All involved in the isp 
retreat taste the truth of Paul's words: "So I shall be very happy to make 
my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may be made 
manifest in me" (2 Cor. 12:9). 

From transparent vulnerability flows humility. Another gift that the 
isp retreats offer is the possible transformation through humility, Jesuits 
included. Jesuits and humility? Blaise Pascal and John Adams would be 
incredulous! So how is the reality of humility operative in the retreats 
with the homeless? 

It is humbling for the homeless men to tell their stories about wres- 
tling with addiction. The competitive edge of retreatants is quelled when 
the focus is on our struggles. The retreat is particularly humbling for Je- 
suits. It pushes Jesuits beyond titles, academic degrees, accomplishments, 
and so forth to face their struggles with others openly. All of this invites 
honest self-surrender to God in trust. 

Stephan quotes theologian Roberto Goizueta, who cautions anyone 
who works with the poor. "Without . . . humility, one will — with the best 
intentions — once again turn the poor into mere instruments of one's own 
projected designs and ambitions." 26 The poor can become instruments of 
those who want to do good. The poor can be used, isp has sought to be 
free from using the homeless as instruments for Jesuits particularly and 
hopes this very essay is not yet another "using" of the homeless poor for 
our Jesuit purposes. 

It is not only the competitive juices that humility calms. Something 
happens to the American ideal of hard work, ingenuity, independence 
and self-sufficiency when Jesuits hear from retreatants how long some of 



26 Goizueta, Caminemos con Jesus, 209. 



Jesuits and the Homeless # 25 



them have coped with addictions and homelessness. In our culture, the 
desire for transformation can become achievement by our efforts only. 
Stephan notes that we can easily lose perspective on what God is doing. 
The language of the Jesuits' Thirty-fourth General Congregation captures 
not only the need for transformation, but also the need to take seriously 
the gap that exists between our efforts and God's efforts. 27 

This dynamic of a "humble transformation/' as Stephan calls it, is an 
on-going process. Those who are homeless have a good experience of the 
retreat. But how many are permanently _^^^__^^__^^^^^^^^_ 
transformed? How many overcome their 

addiction to drugs or alcohol permanent- Not all Jesuits are called to 
ly? How many find a home, a job, and en- he with homeless persons on 
ter into stable and loving relationships? retreats. But all Jesuits are 

isp has learned that, in some instances, life called to allow the poor to 

changes have occurred. But certainly that he in our awareness when we 
is not so with every retreatant. Rather, the Jesuits preach in the pulpits of 
retreat and follow-up are part of a much suburbia, teach in classrooms, 
longer and larger process of transforma- and do research. Because of 
tion. Spiritual direction conversations and this solidarity, we bring the 
days of reflection will help continue this entrenched poor with us 

on-going process, isp has set up opportuni- wherever we are on mission. 
ties for follow-up to the retreats in Boston, 
Chicago, and Cleveland through days of 

reflection and spiritual direction. It is humbling to realize that when the re- 
treat ends maybe one or two of these retreatants will live a life that is trans- 
formed — maybe . 



Conclusion 

When the Chicago provincial began the Ignatian Spirituality 
Project with its focus on those who were homeless, there was 
a call to give retreats but little sense of a call to community. 
We had read these words in our Jesuit documents, but in the beginning 
they were not consciously remembered. 



27 



Stephan, "Transforming Culture," 9. 



26 * William E. Creed, S.J. 



We must create communities of solidarity in seeking justice. . . . Every Jesuit 
in his ministry can and should promote justice in one or more of the following 
ways: (a) direct service and accompaniment of the poor, (b) developing aware- 
ness of the demands of justice joined to the social responsibility to achieve it, 
(c) participating in the social mobilization for the creation of a more just so- 
cial order. 28 

We thought solidarity was through the isp retreat. This was to be a 
project offering an occasional retreat to some folks who were trying to get 
off the streets and off alcohol and drugs, people trying to live their lives 
more fully. Bring them in for retreat and send them off after retreat. That 
was the plan. But over time, it has become clearer that the plan to offer an 
occasional weekend retreat has been the beginning of something larger. 
Several "calls" have been experienced by isp, all calls to enter into greater 
solidarity. 

At times the solidarity is real. 

The voice-mail message said: "Hi, it's me, Maxwell, and I'm incar- 
cerated again because of my cocaine habit. I was caught again stealing 
to supply my habit. Since Fve been jailed, Fve been meditating with the 
Scripture and Fve been journaling. Fm trying to stop the lies, go down 
the stairwell of my soul, and surrender to God — again. The prison is not 
too far from where you live. Could you come visit me? Fve put you on 
my visitors list!" 

These voice mails do not occur weekly or even monthly, but 
through the isp retreat, a relationship with persons who are homeless is 
established. And the relationship sometimes continues long after the re- 
treat. It can be frustrating at times to be with someone like Maxwell, who 
is incarcerated again. Here Pedro Arrupe's words about not ingesting our 
culture's "contempt for the poor" are a good challenge. 29 When the chal- 
lenge is heard, it then becomes possible to love the goodness of Maxwell 
and to be a faithful friend. His voice-mail message affirms that some kind 
of mutual bond exists. 

Over time, in each of the cities where isp offers retreats, relation- 
ships have been formed with shelter directors, program managers, and 



28 "Our Mission and Justice," Documents of the Thirty-fourth General Congregation, 46, 
no. 19. 

29 Pedro Arrupe, S.J., "The Social Commitment of the Society of Jesus," Justice with 
Faith Today (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1980), 53 



Jesuits and the Homeless $K 27 



case counselors, [SP has led two retreats for those who work with the 
homeless — people involved in helping the homeless find jobs, become 
involved in aa, and procure affordable housing. A key issue in each of 
those retreats was, What sustains you as you serve those who are home- 
less? The common response was: hope. These directors and case workers 
did not know Ignatius's Rules for Discernment. They did not realize that 
it was God's Spirit in them, giving them hope in the face of almost insur- 
mountable odds. 

Those who advocate for affordable housing and job training have 
asked isp to join them in support of changing the way the system deals 
with the homeless. Until recently children who were homeless could not 
attend public schools in Illinois, isp joined advocates for the homeless to 
change that law so that children in transitional shelters can now attend 
school. In the spring of 2007, isp joined many homeless persons in Spring- 
field to lobby Illinois elected officials for more affordable housing. Bob 
Stephan noted that it was like a reunion from the retreats. "I saw many 
men who had been on a retreat. And now here we were, on a common 
project — new legislation for housing/' 

The Thirty-fourth General Congregation said that Jesuit "commit- 
ment to social justice and ongoing human development must focus on 
transforming the cultural values which sustain an unjust and oppressive 
social order/' 30 isp thought that its efforts could remain "just spiritual." It 
is surprising that a little retreat has led to involvement in social change. 
isp is still in the process of learning how to respond to this call to be advo- 
cates along with others to end the injustice of homelessness. 

A community has formed comprising isp and those who were home- 
less and now are involved in the retreats. Wayne, Lori, Felicia, and David 
now support one another in Chicago in their recovery and in their wit- 
ness on the retreats for those who are homeless. Wayne is beginning to 
form a community of those in recovery and involved in the retreats across 
the various cities where isp functions. 

A national formation process is being born. Formerly homeless 
persons like Wayne Richard have taken further steps. Wayne says to those 
who are still homeless: 



30 "Our Mission and Culture/' Documents of the Thirty-fourth General Congrega- 
tion, 64, no. 28.3. 



28 * William E. Creed, S.J. 



About a year after I became sober, I realized that I had been hoping to re- 
turn to the place where I had an apartment, a job, a car and a woman. I was 
at that very place where I had once been and things had gone awry. I realized 
that I had to look deeper. I had to find out who I was, and what God's purpose 
in my life was so that I did not repeat my addiction and homelessness." 

Wayne entered into a "spiritual conversation" relationship and then 
a "spiritual direction" relationship. Eventually he made the Spiritual Ex- 
ercises in Daily Life over nine months, meeting with his Jesuit director 
weekly and sharing prayer and faith in a small group with others making 
the Exercises. Last year he asked to enter into the eight-month Internship 
in Spiritual Direction in the Ignatian Tradition, "because people in recov- 
ery from homelessness and addiction are asking me to be their spiritual 
director and I am not trained." 

isp realizes that the real ministers to those who are homeless are the 
formerly homeless — people like Wayne, Lori, Felicia, and David. They 
continue to ask the Jesuits for formation. The Thirty-fourth General Con- 
gregation wrote about formation of the laity. "We need to respond to their 
desire for formation so that they are able to minister as fully as possi- 
ble according to their call and gifts. . . . We should not hesitate to offer, 
when requested, the experience of the Spiritual Exercises and our spiritu- 
al direction." 31 Did the authors of that document envision that the "laity" 
would include formerly homeless addicts? That is what is happening, be- 
yond our expectations. 

When the Jesuit provincials of the United States issued their "Medi- 
tation on Our Response to the Call of Christ," the perspective of isp shift- 
ed. They wrote as follows: 

How can we ignore the fact that those most in need of our solidarity are those 
who suffer painful hardships? Perhaps the most pressing and painful exam- 
ples are forced migrants, inner city populations — racial minorities, the elderly, 
the homeless. [26] 

In the light of the vision articulated in the parable of the Last Judgment and 
the Two Standards of the Spiritual Exercises, we need no persuading that "a pref- 
erential but not exclusive love for the poor" is more than something optional; 
we have an urgent duty to bring the Gospel to the entire contemporary world. 
This commitment may be offensive to some, but as Jesuits, we make choices that 
flow from our commitment to choose poverty, dishonor, and humble service of 
the least among us, even if it must be in the face of culture promoting self-indul- 



31 "Cooperation with the Laity on Mission," Documents of the Thirty-Fourth General 
Congregation, 162, no. 8. 



Jesuits and the Homeless * 29 



gent economics, political domination, and lifestyle enclaves. . . . Our solidarity 
is not just for the poor. . . . This solidarity is for the sake of us all. 32 

Not all Jesuits are called to be with homeless persons on retreats. 
But all Jesuits are called to allow the poor to be in our awareness when 
we Jesuits preach in the pulpits of suburbia, teach in classrooms, and do 
research. Because of this solidarity, we bring the entrenched poor with 
us wherever we are on mission. 

These recent documents have called isp to a shift in perspective. The 
Church and the Society of Jesus seek to become allies with those who are 
entrenched in poverty. 

Many Jesuit universities and high schools have heeded the words of 
Father General to be open to experience "personal involvement with inno- 
cent suffering, with the injustice others suffer." 33 Service learning projects 
have been established where students and faculty have contact with the 
homeless. Many Jesuit parishes have projects that link parishioners with the 
homeless. An opportunity seems to have ripened for a nation-wide collabo- 
ration among Jesuit universities, high schools, parishes, and retreat houses 
on behalf of the homeless. Such teamwork across the U.S. might make indi- 
vidual efforts more effective in ending the injustice of homelessness. 

A set of new relationships is forming through this tiny outreach to 
those who are homeless. We Jesuits have had our perspective shift as we 
have come to know those who are homeless. We have come to call many 
who are homeless our friends. Their lives have cast a light of gratitude 
on our lives and ministry, filled with so many gifts we've taken for grant- 
ed. Their struggles have cast a light on our vulnerabilities and struggles. 
Their hopes have invited us to entrust ourselves in self-surrender to the 
One who is Love, Truth, Justice, and Mercy. Their desire to come home, in 
all the physical, social, and spiritual dimensions of coming home, contin- 
ues to touch our desire to come home to a faith that does justice. 

We are in a community we don't really remember joining. How did 
this ever happen? And in the spirit of Abraham, our father in faith, who set 
out trusting God without knowing exactly where he was going, we ask the 
question, "Where is this community leading us?" 



32 US Jesuit Provincials, "A Meditation on Our Response to the Call of Christ'' (Wash- 
ington, D.C.: Jesuit Conference, 2006), 28, 31. 

33 Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., "The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice 
in American Jesuit Higher Education," public lecture delivered at Santa Clara University, 
Santa Clara, Cal., October 2000. 



Past Issues of Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 

Available for Sale 

(For prices, see inside back cover.) 

1/1 Sheets, Profile of the Contemporary Jesuit (Sept. 1969) 

1/2 Ganss, Authentic Spiritual Exercises: History and Terminology (Nov. 1969) 

2/1 Burke, Institution and Person (Feb. 1970) 

2/2 Futrell, Ignatian Discernment (Apr. 1970) 

2/3 Lonergan, Response of the Jesuit as Priest and Apostle (Sept. 1970) 

3/1 Wright, Grace of Our Founder and the Grace of Our Vocation (Feb. 1971) 

3/2 O'Flaherty, Some Reflections on Jesuit Commitment (Apr. 1971) 

3/4 Toner, A Method for Communal Discernment of God's Will (Sept. 1971) 

3/5 Sheets, Toward a Theology of the Religious Life (Nov. 1971) 

4/2 Two Discussions: I. Spiritual Direction, II. Leadership and Authority (Mar. 1972) 

4/3 Orsy, Some Questions about the Purpose and Scope of the General Congregation 

(June 1972) 
4/4 Ganss, Wright, O'Malley, O'Donovan, Dulles, On Continuity and Change: A 
Symposium (Oct. 1972) 
5/1-2 O'Flaherty, Renewal: Call and Response (Jan.-Mar. 1973) 
5/3 Arrupe, McNaspy, The Place of Art in Jesuit Life (Apr. 1973) 
5/4 Haughey, The Pentecostal Thing and Jesuits (June 1973) 
5/5 Orsy, Toward a Theological Evaluation of Communal Discernment (Oct. 1973) 
6/3 Knight, Joy and Judgment in Religious Obedience (Apr. 1974) 
7/1 Wright, Ganss, Orsy, On Thinking with the Church Today (Jan. 1975) 
7/2 Ganss, Christian Life Communities from the Sodalities (Mar. 1975) 
7/3 Connolly, Contemporary Spiritual Direction: Scope and Principles (June 1975) 
7/5 Buckley, The Confirmation of a Promise; Padberg, Continuity and Change in Gen- 
eral Congregation XXXII (Nov. 1975) 
8/1 O'Neill, Acatamiento: Ignatian Reverence (Jan. 1976) 
8/2-3 De la Costa, Sheridan, and others, On Becoming Poor: A Symposium on Evan- 
gelical Poverty (Mar-May 1976) 
8/4 Faricy, Jesuit Community: Community of Prayer (Oct. 1976) 
9/1-2 Becker, Changes in U.S. Jesuit Membership, 1958-75; Others, Reactions and Ex- 
planations (Jan.-Mar. 1977) 
9/4 Connolly, Land, Jesuit Spiritualities and the Struggle for Social Justice (Sept. 

1977). 
9/5 Gill, A Jesuit's Account of Conscience (Nov. 1977) 

10/1 Kammer, "Burn-Out" —Dilemma for the Jesuit Social Activist (Jan. 1978) 
10/4 Harvanek, Status of Obedience in the Society of Jesus; Others, Reactions to Con- 
nolly-Land (Sept. 1978) 
11/1 Clancy, Feeling Bad about Feeling Good (Jan. 1979) 

11/2 Maruca, Our Personal Witness as Power to Evangelize Culture (Mar. 1979) 
11/3 Klein, American Jesuits and the Liturgy (May 1979) 
11/5 Conwell, The Kamikaze Factor: Choosing Jesuit Ministries (Nov. 1979) 
12/2 Henriot, Appleyard, Klein, Living Together in Mission: A Symposium on Small 

Apostolic Communities (Mar. 1980) 
12/3 Conwell, Living and Dying in the Society of Jesus (May 1980) 
13/1 Peter, Alcoholism in Jesuit Life (Jan. 1981) 



13/3 Ganss, Towards Understanding the Jesuit Brothers' Vocal ion (May 1981) 
13/4 Reites, St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jews (Sept. 198 1 ) 
14/1 O'Mallcy, The Jesuits, St. Ignatius, and the ( 'ouiiler Reformation (Jan. 1982) 
14/2 Dulles, St, Ignatius and Jesuit Theological Tradition (Mar. 1982) 
14/4 Gray, An Experience in Iguatiaii Government (Sept. 1982) 
14/5 Ivern, The Future of Faith and justice: Review of Decree Four (Nov. 1 982) 
15/1 O'Mallcy, The Fourth Vow in Us Ignatian Context (Jan. 1983) 
15/2 Sullivan and Faricy, On Making the Spiritual Exercises for Renewal of Jesuit 
Charisms (Mar. 1983) 
15/3-4 Padberg, The Society True to Itself: A Brief History of the 32nd General Congrega- 
tion of the Society of Jesus (May-Sept. 1983) 
15/5-16/1 Tetlow, Jesuits' Mission in Higher Education (Nov. 1983-Jan. 1984) 

16/2 O'Malley, To Travel to Any Part of the World: Jeronimo Nadal and the Jesuit Voca- 
tion (Mar. 1984) 
16/3 O'Hanlon, Integration of Christian Practices: A Western Christian Looks East 

(May 1984) 
16/4 Carlson, "A Faith Lived Out of Doors": Ongoing Formation (Sept. 1984) 
17/1 Spohn, St. Paul on Apostolic Celibacy and the Body of Christ (Jan. 1985) 
17/2 Daley, "In Ten Thousand Places": Christian Universality and the Jesuit Mission 

(Mar. 1985) 
17/3 Tetlow, Dialogue on the Sexual Maturing of Celibates (May 1985) 
17/4 Spohn, Coleman, Clarke, Henriot, Jesuits and Peacemaking (Sept. 1985) 
17/5 Kinerk, When Jesuits Pray: A Perspective on the Prayer of Apostolic Persons (Nov. 

1985) 
18/1 Gelpi, The Converting Jesuit (Jan. 1986). 

18/2 Beirne, Compass and Catalyst: The Ministry of Administration (Mar. 1986) 
18/3 McCormick, Bishops as Teachers and Jesuits as Listeners (May 1986) 
18/5 Tetlow, The Transformation of Jesuit Poverty (Nov. 1986). 
19/1 Staudenmaier, United States Technology and Adult Commitment (Jan. 1987) 
19/2 Appleyard, Languages We Use: Talking about Religious Experience (Mar. 1987) 
19/5 Endean, Who Do You Say Ignatius Is? Jesuit Fundamentalism and Beyond (Nov. 

1987) 
20/1 Brackley, Downward Mobility: Social Implications of St. Ignatius 's Two Standards 

(Jan. 1988) 
20/2 Padberg, How We Live Where We Live (Mar. 1988) 

20/3 Hayes, Padberg, Staudenmaier, Symbols, Devotions, and Jesuits (May 1988) 
20/4 McGovern, Jesuit Education and Jesuit Spirituality (Sept. 1988) 
20/5 Barry, Jesuit Formation Today: An Invitation to Dialogue and Involvement (Nov. 

1988) 
21/1 Wilson, Where Do We Belong? United States Jesuits and Their Memberships (Jan. 

1989) 
21/2 Demoustier, Calvez, et al., The Disturbing Subject: The Option for the Poor 

(Mar. 1989) 
21/3 Soukup, Jesuit Response to the Communication Revolution (May 1989) 
22/1 Carroll, The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (Jan. 1990) 
22/2 Bracken, Jesuit Spirituality from a Process Prospective (March 1990) 
22/3 Shepherd, Fire for a Weekend: An Experience of the Exercises (May 1990) 
22/4 O'Sullivan, Trust Your Feelings, but Use Your Head (Sept. 1990) 
22/5 Coleman, A Company of Critics: Jesuits and the Intellectual Life (Nov. 1990) 
23/1 Houdek, The Road Too Often Traveled (Jan. 1991) 

23/3 Begheyn and Bogart, A Bibliography on St. Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises (May 
1991) 



23/4 Shelton, Reflections on the Mental Health of Jesuits (Sept. 1991) 

23/5 Toolan, "Nature Is a Heraclitean Fire" (Nov. 1991) 

24/1 Houdek, Jesuit Prayer and Jesuit Ministry: Context and Possibilities (Jan. 1992) 

24/2 Smolich, Testing the Water: Jesuits Accompanying the Poor (March 1992) 

24/3 Hassel, Jesus Christ Changing Yesterday, Today, and Forever (May 1992) 

24/4 Shelton, Toward Healthy Jesuit Community Living (Sept. 1992) 

24/5 Cook, Jesus' Parables and the Faith That Does Justice (Nov. 1992) 

25/3 Padberg, Ignatius, the Popes, and Realistic Reverence (May 1993) 

25/4 Stahel, Toward General Congregation 34 (Sept. 1993) 

25/5 Baldovin, Christian Liturgy: An Annotated Bibliography (Nov. 1993) 

26/2 Murphy, The Many Ways of Justice (March 1994) 

26/3 Staudenmaier, To Fall in Love with the World (May 1994) 

26/5 Landy, Myths That Shape Us (Nov. 1994) 

27/1 Daley, "To Be More like Christ" (Jan. 1995) 

27/2 Schmidt, Portraits and Landscapes (March 1995) 

27/3 Stockhausen, I'd Love to, but I Don't Have the Time (May 1995) 

27/4 Anderson, Jesuits in Jail, Ignatius to the Present (Sept. 1995) 

27/5 Shelton, Friendship in Jesuit Life (Nov. 1995) 

28/1 Begheyn, Bibliography on the History of the Jesuits (Jan. 1996) 

28/3 Clooney, In Ten Thousand Places, in Every Blade of Grass (May 1996) 

28/4 Starkloff, "As Different As Night and Day" (Sept. 1996) 

28/5 Beckett, Listening to Our History (Nov. 1996) 

29/1 Hamm, Preaching Biblical Justice (Jan. 1997) 

29/2 Padberg, The Three Forgotten Founders (March 1997) 

29/3 Byrne, Jesuits and Parish Ministry (May 1997) 

29/4 Keenan, Are Informationes Ethical? (Sept. 1997) 

29/5 Ferlita, The Road to Bethlehem-Is It Level or Winding? (Nov. 1997) 

30/1 Shore, The "Vita Christi" ofLudolph of Saxony and Its Influence on the "Spiritual 

Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola" (Jan. 1998) 

30/2 Starkloff, "I'm No Theologian, but... (or So...)?" (March 1998) 

30/3 Torrens, The Word That Clamors (May 1998) 

30/4 Petrik, "Being Sent" (Sept. 1998) 

30/5 Jackson, "One and the Same Vocation" (Nov. 1998) 

31/1 Clifford, Scripture and the Exercises (Jan. 1999) 

31/2 Toohig, Physics Research, a Search for God (March 1999) 

31/3 Fagin, Fidelity in the Church — Then and Now (May 1999) 

31/4 Schineller, Pilgrim Journey of Ignatius (Sept. 1999) 

31/5 Fullam, Juana, S.J.: Status of Women in the Society (Nov. 1999) 

32/1 Langan, The Good of Obedience in a Culture of Autonomy (Jan. 2000) 

32/2 Blake, Listen with Your Eyes (March 2000) 

32/3 Shelton, When a Jesuit Counsels Others (May 2000) 

32/4 Barry, Past, Present, and Future (Sept. 2000) 

32/5 Starkloff, Pilgrimage Re-envisioned (Nov. 2000) 

33/1 Kolvenbach et al., Faith, Justice, and American Jesuit Higher Education (Jan. 

2001) 

33/2 Keenan, Unexpected Consequences: Persons's Christian Directory (March 2001) 

33/3 Arrupe, Trinitarian Inspiration of the Ignatian Charism (May 2001) 

33/4 Veale, Saint Ignatius Asks, "Are You Sure You Know Who I Am? " (Sept. 2001) 

33/5 Barry and Keenan, How Multicultural Are We? (Nov. 2001) 

34/1 Blake, "City of the Living God" (Jan. 2002) 

34 / 2 Clooney, A Charism for Dialog (March 2002) 



34/3 Rehg, Christian Mindfulness (May 2002) 

34/4 Brackley, Expanding the Shrunken Soul (Sept. 2002) 

34/5 Bireley, The Jesuits uml Politics in Time of War (Nov. 2002) 

35/1 Barry, Jesuit Spirituality for the Whole of Life (Jan. 2003) 

35/2 Madden /Janssens, The Training of Ours in the Sacred Liturgy (March 2003) 

35/4 Modras, A Jesuit in the Crucible (Sept. 2003) 

35/5 Lucas, Virtual Vessels, Mystical Signs (Nov. 2003) 

36/1 Rausch, Christian Life Communities for Jesuit University Students? (Spring 

2004) 

36/2 Bernauer, The Holocaust and the Search for Forgiveness (Summer 2004) 

36/3 Nantais, "Whatever!" Is Not Ignatian Indifference (Fall 2004) 

36/4 Lukacs, The Incarnational Dynamic of the Constitutions (Winter 2004) 

37/1 Smolarski, Jesuits on the Moon (Spring 2005) 

37/2 McDonough, Clenched Fist or Open Hands? (Summer 2005) 

37/3 Torrens, Tuskegee Years (Fall 2005) 

37/4 O'Brien, Consolation in Action (Winter 2005) 

38/1 Schineller, In Their Own Words (Spring 2006) 

38/2 Jackson, "Something that happened to me at Manresa" (Summer 2006) 

38/3 Reiser, Locating the Grace of the Fourth Week (Fall 2006) 

38/4 O'Malley, Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism (Winter 2006) 

39/1 McKevitt, Italian Jesuits in Maryland (Spring 2007) 

39/2 Kelly, Loved into Freedom and Service (Summer 2007 

39/3 Kennedy, Music and the Jesuit Mission (Autumn 2007) 

39/4 Creed, Jesuits and the Homeless (Winter 2007) 



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